The Consumer Connection

Facebook, Twitter, offer insurers exposure, consumers and greater reach.

What does Facebook’s triumph over Google have to to with insurance? When the social network beat Google’s traffic in March, it underscored the fact that social networking is not a passing fad, but a valuable customer engagement tool, according to analysts at Celent.

 Social networking tools can help insurers with advertising and consumer communications, but the industry should recognize them as a primary–not a secondary–point of contact, states Leveraging Social Networks: An In-Depth View for Insurers, released April 14.

 The report points to social networking’s advertising power, noting that tools like Facebook and Twitter offer more consumer engagement, and ultimately, more value.

 Building engagement

 How can a Tweet or a Facebook post boost an insurer’s profile? If someone praises a product, mentions the company, or even posts a link to an article on an insurer, other Twitter users can “retweet” the message over and over and Facebook users can “broadcast” links, videos and other messages well beyond the original audience.

 At present, insurers in the U.S. are making more use of social networking than their counterparts in other countries: nine out of the top ten non-life insurers have a Twitter presence, and eight out of ten have a Facebook presence–both with active customer communities, the report notes.

 Although Allstate is the leader when it comes to Twitter followers, Nationwide has the largest number of Facebook followers.

 Nationwide’s “Greatest Spokesperson in the World” campaign, and U.K. company’s “compare the meerkat” campaign–both which combine advertising with social networking– boosted traffic for both companies, although the “meerkat” campaign” has tens of thousands more social networking followers, the analysts point out.

 Personalized networks

 Other networking efforts take a more personal and altruistic approach, the report notes. Networks like Good Hands Community (Allstate) or The Responsibility Project (Liberty Mutual) offer insurers a way to present a different kind of message, according to the analysts, who point to the networks’ more community-minded approach.

 How can insurers take advantage of either approach? The report lays out a series of steps based on “sharing,” –stressing “sharing”(of articles or messages), “repeating” (content from other sources), “engaging” (answering questions), “promotion” (promoting the brand), “mascot” (pushing engagement with a fun character) and finally, “social networking,” which has insurers creating their own social networks only after they’ve fully leveraged existing ones.

 ”Not only are social networks here to stay, but they will grow to define most people’s experience of the Internet in the future,” the report states.

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